In reinforcing the rule of law, the Nuremberg Trials established and highlighted the fact of the Holocaust, Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn. said Saturday evening at the Virginia Holocaust Museum.
Dodd is the son of Thomas J. Dodd, the late senator who is generally regarded as the most effective prosecutor at the trials. Christopher Dodd published last year “Letters from Nuremberg,” which includes much of the daily correspondence that his father sent to his mother during the trials.
The senator was in Richmond to attend a policy retreat of Senate Democrats at the Jefferson Hotel. He signed copies of the book with the recently completed replica of the Nuremberg courtroom to his right. Senatorial colleagues Harry Reid of Nevada, Carl Levin or Michigan and Patrick Leahy of Vermont stopped by briefly for the festivities.
Dodd said his father believed that World War II “was about fundamental rights.” If the defendants had not been accorded those rights, vengeance would have been all they produced, he said.
As the primary force behind the trials, the United States accumulated moral authority from them, Dodd said.
He said he believes that decisions of the Bush Administration – from condoning torture to its policies involving the terrorists at Guántanamo and weakening privacy rights through warrantless surveillance of telephone conversations and e-mail – have undermined that authority.
“You don’t become stronger by giving up your rights,” he said. “You become weaker as a people.”
The Nuremberg Courtroom will be formally dedicated on May 1 in a ceremony that will include a speech by Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella of the Supreme Court of Canada.
Programs earlier in the day at a Rule of Law Conference at the museum will include appearances by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, Virginia Chief Justice Leroy R. Hassell Sr. and Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder.
The Richmond Bar Association will hold its Law Day luncheon at the museum with remarks from Virginia Supreme Court Justice Donald W. Lemons.